Arkansas River Basin Snowpack
Colorado has experienced a record snowpack this past winter and it has been a very cool spring with additional snow still piling up. The 2019 Arkansas River rafting season can be described with just one word, EPIC! As you can see from the graph below, our river basin is still at 138% of our normal peak snowpack and we are 368% of normal for this time of year! It has been an amazing winter for skiing, but now we are gearing up for 6 weeks of BIG water. Last year was a fun year on the water, but look at the comparison to where we were to where we are now!
2019 Arkansas River Rafting Predictions
Once we see warmer temperatures, melting snowpack will rush into our river system while providing the life-giving blood to our world-class rafting destination. We normally experience peak river flows around the 2nd week of June. Based on our cool spring and continued snowfall, we expect the flows to peak around the 3rd or even 4th week of June. As far as actual flows, we are expecting to see peak flows more than 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and a solid 4-6 weeks with flows hovering around 4,000 cfs. We can base this assumption off of a similar snowpack and flow correlation that occurred during 2011.
Last year the flows peaked at about 1,800 cfs and we experience flows around 500 cfs for most of the summer. So pretty much everyone in the valley that has a passion for the river is going stir crazing waiting for the water to come down!
What does this mean to you? Well, if you are planning a trip this summer you can expect great water all summer long and possibly past August 15th prior to the end of our volunteer flow program. If you are looking for high adventure then come on out this June! You’ll have a wild ride to remember for years to come. If you are traveling in July, above average flows that are perfect for a family vacation to Colorado.
At such high water levels, we recommend you go with an experienced Arkansas River rafting outfitter so you are prepared for a safe and exciting journey. Safety is the number one thing to consider. If you’re having a hard time choosing a trip, give us a shout and we’ll help you find the appropriate trip for you and your friends or family.
Worried that the whitewater is too big or too high? Not to worry, the Arkansas River has multiple access points that allow us to adjust your trip based on water flows. On any given day, we can accommodate beginner trips, intermediate trips and advance trips. This way, we can ensure that you and your group have the best rafting experience possible. Arkansas River Rafting near Cotopaxi is perfect the beginner trips. Upstream or downstream options within the Bighorn Sheep Canyon allow us to provide custom intermediate rafting trips, while the advance trip options will be plentiful!